Portrait of the Artist as a Video Conference Administrator-EPILOGUE



The radio was giving me a report about the stock market, and my eyes blinked awake. I looked at the clock. 4:30 a.m.—right on time. I lay in bed a moment longer, waking up.

My clothes were hanging on my doorknob, chosen the night before. I had showered before I went to bed, so I could slip right into my clean and pressed business casuals.

I fixed my hair and brushed my teeth, looking closely in the mirror at the red capillaries in my eyes. Almost ready.

The laptop and books I meant to read during this long day were packed and ready by the door. My lunch and breakfast were waiting in the fridge; I put them in my backpack. I stopped to pet my cat, who purred instantly when I touched his soft fur. Poor lonely kitty. I should pet him more, he is so grateful lately for it.

Slip on my warm coat, the weather is getting colder. I double-check: cell phone, security badge, bus fare. Yes, they are all exactly where I put them the night before. Grab my keys and walk out the door, ten minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

The bus stop is right in front of my building. There is even a nice bench to rest there, but it is damp from the early morning dew. 5:10 is a misty moist time of day. I stand and wait.

Very few people are on the bus at this time of morning; the driver smiles at me as he answers my “good morning.” He is one of my favorite drivers, because he will remember my stop even when I forget. I would like to ask his name, but he seems bashful and that makes me bashful too. Instead I smile sincerely at him and take my seat.

The bus is dimly lit, so I do not read the book I have brought with me. I choose to watch the road go by. Soon enough we are traveling through Chinatown with its Dragon gate and interesting signs.

The new philharmonic hall is approaching; when we turn there I must stay awake. I will be getting off soon. I am alert enough this time to ring the bell and step off at my stop.

A full-bearded street person holding a shopping cart full of used suitcases watches me as I walk down to my building. “Good Morning Beautiful! How are you today?”

I decide to answer. “Tired,” I say. He responds loudly with sympathetic but undecipherable syllables. I smile to myself.

5:45 and all is in readiness. I stop at my desk to check for any messages. None of any consequence. Up to the 16th floor, where the video bridge operator is already connecting my video conference.

By the time I reach the room, it is connected, and Dave the NY person is in the room already. We set everything up and exchange pleasantries. Dave is a very easy-going guy, and we wait for the people from the other sites to appear. It is still quite early, but they all arrive and we test and check. Then we sit for a while longer, talking sports and making sure everything is stable.

Dave reads us the sports from the newspaper he brought with him. David from San Francisco says that it was very peaceful to walk up the street that early in the morning. Philip in Newport Beach looks so peaceful I think he is trying to fall back to sleep.

But everything is set; everything is working perfectly. Everything continues to work perfectly, so we disperse for the moment.

I set my laptop up at the abandoned receptionist’s desk just outside the conference room. I have my books, and I have my coffee mug. I take my mug and my bran muffin to the coffee room. I get some tea and warm my muffin.

Back in the conference room my manager, back from his trip at last, has stopped in to check things out. Things are perfect, so he has an impromptu staff meeting with all of us. We talk about projects and catch up a little on the different things we’ve been doing.

The rest of the guys from the other rooms come back, and my manager has left. We talk some more and everything is still perfect.

Finally, some participants begin to trickle into NY—all other sites are empty. The NY attorneys are all chitchatting and gossiping about clients and colleagues. At last, the meeting monarch says the three magic words: “Let’s get started.”

No one is present in my location, so I listen in to hear him make an announcement asking people to avoid placing their phones on hold during the conference.

Moments later, a participant arrives in my room. I set him up and tell him I will be around the corner. He is pleasant, polite and appreciative. He wonders, “What happened to the doors?”

“They took them off for refinishing.”

“Oh,” he shrugs. I leave him happily situated.

At my makeshift desk, I start to clean off the hard drive and organize my personal files. I have a book, and I read a little bit.

After I finish my first cup of tea, I get another.

My cell phone is silent. After many hours pass, I use my personal cell phone to call my brother.

I flip through digital photographs on my hard drive.

The conference takes a break, and my conference participant has been joined by another participant. He asks me how to mute and unmute the microphones on the speakerphone.

More hours pass. I have deleted a lot of old files on my computer, and composed messages to old friends that will be sent when I next log in to the Internet.

Right on schedule, the meeting ends. The participants say their goodbyes and leave. My pleasant attorney thanks me.

Even NY is clearing out, so I give the okay to disconnect the video call. I call all the support staff on each location to congratulate them and let them know it’s over. They already knew.

It is finished.

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